Epistemology and Faith and Reason. MAYMESTER 2007 DAY 4. Rationalism. The main option to Empiricism is called Rationalism We will consider the rationalism of Descartes. Read: Rauhut on Rationalism Read: Descartes Discourse on Method Part 4
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Epistemology and Faith and Reason
The main option to Empiricism is called Rationalism
We will consider the rationalism of Descartes.
Read: Rauhut on Rationalism
Read: Descartes Discourse on Method Part 4
Rationalists think that they can know about REALITY by employing reason alone (i.e. there are parts of reality knowable by reason alone)…
Empiricists think that everything knowable is known through the senses, and the objects that motivate the rationalists are really products of the mind (Hume’s relations of ideas)
Historically Rationalism has been associated with figures such as:
Making sense of Rationalism is difficult sometimes.
Rationalism usually emerges from either
Different Rationalists emphasize these to different degrees
Our fundamental knowledge of the universe is provided by reason
Most Rationalists also admit that the senses can color our rational knowledge, but that the outlines are given by reason alone.
Rationalists (usually) do not reject sensory perceptions, but…
They hold that either:
Plato thought that knowledge required that the state of knowing be such that if you know P that cannot ever change.
The empirical world is limited and constantly changing
So, we cannot have empirical knowledge—only belief
Thus, if we have knowledge, it is not obtained empirically – Plato thus adopts innate ideas as the source of human knowledge
Plato’s Forms – Special Ideal Objects
Necessary Truths – Truths of Reason
How do we know them?:
Self-Evidence (C&D, Impossible to deny)
Descartes used the Principle of Hyperbolic Doubt to limit what counts as knowledge to those things which cannot be doubted.
His “foundation” for knowledge is:
Cogito ergo sum ; I think therefore I am.
Descartes argues that if God exists, then we know that there is no Evil Demon deceiving us.
The first step in reconstructing knowledge is to prove that God exists. (We will get to that later)
Once this is done, then Descartes can start to rebuild human knowledge by constructing an experienced world out of geometry and sense data.
Truths about this world, the world of science, can be known by reason alone.
The idea of God.
R: I have an idea of God, but I cannot get it through the senses.
E: You can make an idea of God using abstraction and imagination
R: OK, but why do we all make basically the same idea of God???
The Pythagorean Theorem:
R: for all right triangles A2 + B2 = C2
E: I can discover this by trial and error, and others can confirm it.
R: OK, but I said “for all” not “for all up until now” There is a difference! I know that the theorem will hold in cases not yet tried, you don’t.
A Rationalist might say:
A Belief in P is justified just in case P is a neccesary truth, or is deducible from a necessary truth.
Empiricists tend to be inductive reasoners
Rationalists tend to be deductive reasoners
Leibniz (a rationalist/nativist) distinguishes between:
Truths of Fact (truths about the world)
Truths of Reason (truths about ideas)
Hume (an empiricist) distinguishes between:
Matters of Fact (what we know in experience)
Relations of Ideas (what we know about ideas)
If Knowledge is Justified True Belief, then
© Robert Barnard 2006
Historically Philosophy and Religion have been closely related.
Classical and Medieval Philosophers were often also religious thinkers or theologians
Augustine, Anslem, Aquinas, Plotinus, Duns Scotus, William Ockham, etc.
But what do they believe?
And, how should we understand them?
We can use a single word to denote many ideas or objects.
Do we all mean the same thing by “God”?
IS GOD ETERNAL?
DOES GOD KNOW THE FUTURE?
IS GOD MALE OR FEMALE (OR SEXLESS)?
DOES GOD HAVE A PHYSICAL BODY?
IS GOD ALL POWERFUL (OMNIPOTENT)?
IS GOD ALL KNOWING (OMNISCIENT)?
IS GOD ALL-GOOD (OMNIBENEVOLENT)?
IS GOD THE GREATEST CONCIEVABLE BEING?
ARE GOD AND JESUS THE SAME PERSON?
IS GOD EVERYWHERE (OMNIPRESENT)?
(After Rauhut, p. 172)
(After Rauhut, p. 172)
According to Classical Theism:
GOD IS (at least):
Is the Inference Valid?
Is this a counter-example? (too external?)
There are other possible causes of the experiences
Calling them Religious experiences is prejudicial
The Principle of Sufficient Reason:
For every event or object that exists there must be an explanation for that event or object.
To get (3) you must eliminate two possibilities
Possible Prima Facie replies:
- Do we reject PSR? (Ad Hoc, we still apply it in other places)
- Why does the necessary universe have these features and not others? (feeds the design argument)
Worries about the CA
Conclusion: CA is not definitive
The Argument from Design
The Ontological Argument
The Rationality of Theism
The Problem of Evil
Read: Rauhut Chapter 7
Read: Descartes Meditations Meditation 3
(Reading: Http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfbits/dm3.pdf )